When a homeowner should invest in used kitchen cabinets and how to evaluate a purchase from Peter Grenier, Massachusetts builder.
Saving money on a major home renovation, such as a kitchen upgrade, is always a good idea as it lowers overall costs while allowing the homeowner to maximize the benefits of increased value. Peter Grenier, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire builder, advises that kitchen cabinets are one area where significant savings can be realized by looking for used versus new options.
When the homeowner is willing to put in a little elbow grease or is working with a creative team, used cabinets can help create a dream kitchen and provide a custom solution in ways many new, mass-produced cabinets cannot.
Grenier highlights significant considerations when buying used cabinets
According to Peter Grenier, new kitchen cabinets put a major dent in the wallet or savings account, so for the homeowner on a tight budget, a different option is needed. Complete kitchen solutions from home improvement stores in Massachusetts are creeping to the $3,000 mark on the low end, and custom builds easily triple that price tag and can reach upwards of $20,000 based on room size, finishes, and any custom choices for unique countertops or hardware.
Used cabinets can often be purchased for hundreds of dollars and are sometimes even available for free when someone else is remodeling. Occasionally, buyers get lucky and find dream cabinets on the used market; other times, the cabinets need a bit of work to fit the new home. Peter Grenier advises it is essential to factor in the cost of raw materials, such as sanding equipment, paint, and hardware, and assign a monetary value to the time that will be spent working on used cabinets to determine if they are a worthwhile investment.
For some, used cabinets provide an opportunity to invest in a different type of construction and build quality. When looking for older cabinets with hardwood construction or a more custom feel versus mass production, Grenier always recommends double-checking for flaws and imperfections that will be hard to overcome before purchase.
Hardwood cabinets and drawers need to be inspected for signs of sagging and moisture absorption prior to purchase. Any staining also needs to be reviewed to determine if light sanding and painting will adequately cover the stain or if a reworking of the cabinet is necessary. From here, the cost of repairs needs to be assessed.
A major benefit when purchasing older cabinets, particularly those made of hardwood, is the ability to strip any paint or finish and then refinish the cabinet to the preferred stain or color. This makes it easy to bring a preferred color palette to life. New hardware — from hinges to handles and drawer pulls — make it easy to dress a cabinet up or down and help it fit into the kitchen decor.
With a uniquely sized kitchen, both new cabinet solutions and investments in used cabinets can prove tricky as an existing configuration literally may not fit into the room. Grenier reports both options have merit here. A new premade cabinet purchase often includes sections where the cabinet can be stopped early and may include additional trim options to cover any gap to a wall when desired. However, this can spoil a desired aesthetic.
Used cabinets can also have their dimensions tweaked, and the cost savings often makes it easier to refit a cabinet from any leftover sections. The downside is, potentially, not having enough leftover cabinets or cabinet material to close any gaps. Depending on the age of the cabinets, it can be hard to match up finishes, a countertop or hardware. Many homeowners find this is an opportunity to get creative with space, but Peter Grenier advises this approach isn’t for everyone.